View Full Version : RAF Hornchurch BBC Two men in a Trench

27th Feb 2004, 04:38
Just watched a BBC2 prog this eve, two archaeologists were excavating certain parts of RAF Hornchurch in EAST LONDON. Quite an intreresting idea, but seemed to brush over too many points without giving too much detail about the airfield itself.... when did the airfield open and then close?? Does anyone have any photos to bring the programme i saw into life??

27th Feb 2004, 20:40

I can't say I'm surprised you were left wanting after an hour. .....Like a lot of these sort of programmes, all a bit "Blue Peterish" for my liking; although in fairness some of the archaeological bits were quite interesting. .....That said, it quite amused me that all that effort went into digging up an 'E' pen, when there is a perfectly serviceable surviving example for all to see, about a hundred yards around the corner! .....No mention also of one or two remaining gems like the Officers Mess, sadly marooned but still standing, in the middle of a housing estate.

Speechless Two is right on his history and prior to that the Royal Flying Corps base at the same location was known as Suttons Farm in WWI, before closing and subsequently reopening as RAF Hornchurch during the pre WWII expansion of RAF airfields. .....The airfield has a rich history, from the Zeppelin raids, through the Battle of Britain, to the large fighter sweeps and bomber escorts over Europe, prior to D-Day. .....After that Hornchurch went into slow historical decline; its final fate not at the hands of the Luftwaffe, but of the gravel pit and the housing estate, like so many. .....Consequently, I find the site somewhat depressing today, in view of all that has gone on there, despite the efforts to dress it up as a country park.

In answer to your question, you can get a very good flavour of the halcyon days there, with extensive photos from.....

The Battle of Britain: Then & Now, Mk V edited by Winston G. Ramsey, published by 'After the Battle'.

Hornchurch Scramble, Hornchurch Offensive and Hornchurch Eagles; a trilogy of books by Richard C. Smith, fairly recently published by Grub Street.

27th Feb 2004, 22:15
I turned it off after about 15 mins, it seemed a very bland and light-weight production, I much prefer to watch 'Time-Team'.

'After The Battle' produced an excellent book about the Battle of Britain with 'now & then' articles about all the major airfields.